Rauner stops at Bloomingdale’s NOW Foods on two-day tour
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner recently visited NOW Foods in Bloomingdale as part of a two-day tour of the state to advocate for a balance budget and promote various governmental and economic reforms.
Speaking to employees at the natural products manufacturer, Rauner stressed the need for changes in Illinois to ensure that the future of the state is prosperous.
“I want them to have higher family incomes, I want all of you to have a better future, I want your children to have great schools and I want your salaries to go up,” Rauner said in a segment on ABC7 Chicago.
Rauner’s tour comes as the General Assembly is trying to negotiate a budget agreement before the upcoming deadline in May. The state has been operating on a stopgap budget for more than 20 months, leading to more than $13 billion of unpaid bills and uncertainty for agencies and institutions that rely on state funding. The state is also facing a credit devaluation, with Moody’s vowing to drop the state to a junk rating if it does not put a budget in place this year.
Illinois has a deficit of $6 billion, with $32 billion in revenue and $38 billion in spending. Democratic lawmakers are insisting that key services be maintained through higher taxes and increased revenue, while Republicans are pushing for reform to government spending and other systems.
On his tour, Rauner highlighted key aspects of his Turnaround Agenda, which focuses on making the state attractive for businesses, which he argues would drive job growth and increase the state's revenue by generating a larger tax pool, rather than higher rates on the existing pool.
According to Rauner, Illinois is lagging behind neighboring states in terms of job growth and has not charted net job growth in 17 years. In that same period, the state has lost approximately 300,000 manufacturing jobs. It has also increased government spending by 66 percent.
To turn these trends around, Rauner’s agenda calls for a series of governmental and economic reforms. He advocates for term limits for politicians in the state and wants to update the processes for determining voting districts.
Rauner would like to see government consolidation to merge some of the state’s local units of government. Illinois has more than 7,000 units of local government — the most of any state by a wide margin despite having just the fifth largest population. He has also called for a property tax freeze that, if enacted, would require approval from local voters to be lifted.
While Rauner’s position on these reforms has been clearly established, throughout the tour he emphasized his willingness to negotiate. He said he was willing to accept a budget agreement that did not cover all of the Republican’s desired reforms, but that any agreement would need to prioritize reform and not simply efforts to raise more revenue.
Rauner has been criticized by several prominent Democratic politicians in the state for his tour, which they characterized as a campaign event. Some Democrats also said the tour was a representation of Rauner’s misplaced priorities, arguing that he should be working on the state’s issues in Springfield rather than promoting his agenda.
Rauner has not yet announced a re-election campaign and classified the tour as a political event, not a campaign event. He specified at least at one stop that the tour was not paid for with public funds.
In Bloomingdale, the DuPage County Republicans saw the tour as an opportunity to advocate for Rauner’s reforms with the state’s voters.
"He's bringing his pro-growth message directly to the people,” the DuPage County Republicans wrote on the group's Facebook page.
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